Creationist Wisdom — Example 56

YOUR Curmudgeon once again brings you the view from Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of creationist wisdom. They have this new article at their website: The Ultimate Proof of Creation From the title alone, you know we’re in for a wild ride.

The author is Jason Lisle, who is described at the AIG website as a Creationist Astrophysicist, an unusual specialty. They have an entire page devoted to information about this unique man: Dr. Jason Lisle, Ph.D. Note that a reference to his doctorate appears both before and after his name. That’s how we shall refer to him.

We’ve made mistakes several times before by saying that the example of creationist wisdom we’re presenting is the dumbest ever. Then, no sooner do we post that item when an even dumber example comes along. Therefore, although it’s certainly tempting, we won’t make that mistake this time. Besides, Dr. Lisle, Ph.D isn’t actually stupid. This may be a case of Abominable Befuddlement.

We will say, however, that this is one of the most logically confused creationist articles we’ve encountered, and that kind of article is often the most challenging to deal with. You’ll see. We’ll give you a few excerpts, with bold font added by us.

After an introduction which we’ll skip — it misleadingly analogizes the truth of creationism to the very air we breathe — Dr. Lisle, Ph.D mentions his book (there’s a link at the AIG article), about which he says:

With the arguments presented in this new book, I demonstrate that biblical creation absolutely must be true because it is a prerequisite for knowledge and science. That is, if creation were not true, science (or knowledge about anything whatsoever) would be impossible. For example:

That’s something like quote-mining, but conducted at a “higher” level. There actually is a kind of philosophical argument that runs like that, but it involves genuine axioms, not abstract constructions like creationism. For example: We must accept the validity of Aristotelian logic as an axiom, because logic underlies all our intellectual efforts. Without it, for example, contradictions would be acceptable. Therefore if logic is out … then it’s in. Whoopie!

See how it goes? Axioms can’t be proved, but something that is truly axiomatic must be accepted. Without logic (and free will, and a few other axioms) we’d be unable to recognize and reject false conclusions.

Okay, but is scriptural creationism an axiom — something that must be accepted by necessity? Is it, as Dr. Lisle, Ph.D claims, “a prerequisite for knowledge and science”? Scientists seem to get along just fine without it. Well, there are the so-called creation scientists, who base their teachings on the “axiom” of Dr. Lisle, Ph.D. But we humbly suggest that the “axiom of creationism” is an utterly optional item.

What Dr. Lisle, Ph.D does here is what we shall call “philosophy mining.” You can judge for yourself how successful his attempt actually is.

Moving along now, Dr. Lisle, Ph.D gives us three examples to demonstrate what he’s claiming. Presumably these are the best that his book has to offer. Here’s the first:

Orderly, mathematical laws of nature that describe the consistent clockwork operation of the universe are exactly what we would expect given that Christ upholds all things by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). If the universe were really the chance product of a big bang, then why would it obey laws?

There’s another explanation for why the universe exhibits orderly behavior. The laws of the universe are inherent in the nature of matter and energy, and don’t need to come from anywhere else. Consider the photon (or any other item you want to consider). We don’t know why it is the way it is, and presumably neither does anyone else. Not yet. But whatever a photon may be, it is something.

To be something is to be something specific, and not any-old-thing. To put it another way, a photon is exactly what it is. It has the specific characteristics that it has, and not some other characteristics. It behaves the way photons behave, and not the way neutrons behave. Why? Because it’s a photon!

Such regularities — or scientific laws — obtain, not because of some arbitrary decree from beyond space and time, but because everything that exists has specific characteristics and acts accordingly. The laws of nature are therefore a corollary of existence itself. There is no need to seek untestable explanations from somewhere beyond existence, wherever that may be. Existence itself is sufficient.

So in response to the question of Dr. Lisle, Ph.D about why the universe is observed to obey orderly natural laws, we respond by saying: How could anything that exists behave otherwise? Well, the gods could intervene to muck things up, but even Dr. Lisle, Ph.D acknowledges that we observe order, not chaos.

Here’s the next example from Dr. Lisle, Ph.D:

The fact that the human mind is capable of rational thought and that our senses can reliably probe the universe makes sense given that God created the human mind and sensory organs (Genesis 1:27; Proverbs 20:12).

That’s just too easy. See: Begging the question.

And here’s the third example from Dr. Lisle, Ph.D:

An absolute, universal moral code by which we have knowledge of right and wrong only makes sense if there is a sovereign God who has created rules for us, and to whom we are accountable.

We’ve discussed that a few times before, most recently here: Morality, Evolution, and Darwin. There’s no need to repeat ourselves, but we will repeat something said by Socrates — because it’s definitely worth repeating, and also because Dr. Lisle, Ph.D seems not to have considered it:

It’s Socrates’ Euthyphro dilemma — “Is what is moral commanded by the gods because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by the gods?”

There’s more to the article, but we’ve given you the essence of the author’s argument. At the end, there’s a statement by Ken Ham, the founder of AIG. Ham’s statement begins:

I believe this is one of the most important creationist books available today to teach people how to think biblically and how to argue logically in the defense of the Christian faith.

And so, dear reader, you now have before you the best thinking that AIG has to offer. You cannot fail to see the light.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

13 responses to “Creationist Wisdom — Example 56

  1. Dr. Jason Lisle, Ph.D., Esq. wrote: If the universe were really the chance product of a big bang, then why would it obey laws?

    That doesn’t even begin to support the notion that “Christ upholds all things by the Word of His power”. (Whatever “Word of His power” is supposed to mean.) He’s making a lot of leaps there.

    But that is what makes Mr. Dr. Lisle a great thinker in certain circles. He can pull a “given” right out of his hat anytime he needs one. Like they’re goin outta style.

  2. waldteufel

    With Apologies to Descartes: “I think, therefore I am . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .I think.”

  3. 386sx says: “But that is what makes Mr. Dr. Lisle a great thinker in certain circles.”

    Yes. And I’ve got to stop tweaking the article. His Excellency, Dr. Lisle, Ph.D, just isn’t worth the effort.

  4. A lot of the laws of physics may be logically deductive given a few assumptions, and we mere mortals just aren’t smart enough to see the deduction.

    For instance, in “Six Not So Easy Pieces” Feynman makes the point that that the law of conservation of momentum logically follows if (i) quantum mechanics is right and (i) you can travel in space and arrive back where you started. The “why” behind the law of conservation of momentum is no more mysterious than 1+1=2, if you can do the math. And the same is true for the laws of conservation of energy and angular momentum.

    So, to answer Lisle’s question about why the universe is ordered, the answer may be that it can’t be any other way, but most of us just aren’t smart enough to do the math involved in “why.”

  5. If Dr. Lisle is correct in asserting that

    Christ upholds all things by the Word of His power

    then why did they have to invent Viagra?

  6. Dr. Jason Lisle, Ph.D., Esq

    What a waste of education.

  7. The “esq.” was an exaggeration by 386sx. Still, considering where Dr. Lisle, Ph.D is now (churning out creationist essays for AIG), he should have just gone to bible college. He would have saved himself a lot of hard work.

  8. Dr. Jason Lisle, PhD seems to have forgotten all of his relativity training and settled into a Newtonian view of the world. How sad.

    And he’s wrong about chaos and the brain:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227141.200-disorderly-genius-how-chaos-drives-the-brain.html?full=true

  9. I wonder where Dr Lisle, PhD. studied physics. I don’t recall being exposed to any similar philosophies back when I was getting my degree in astrophysics. Maybe he got a degree in bible based astronomy at Bob Jones, Liberty U. or some god forsaken baptist bible college.

  10. BillG asks: “I wonder where Dr Lisle, PhD. studied physics.”

    According to his bio at the AIG site:

    Dr. Lisle graduated summa cum laude from Ohio Wesleyan University where he double-majored in physics and astronomy, and minored in mathematics. He did graduate work at the University of Colorado where he earned a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics.

  11. I take it logic is not a prerequisite for a degree in physics or astronomy.

    How is it possible for a mind deficient in connecting the dots to get an advanced degree?

  12. Lisle’s article reminds me that “The Ultimate answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is…42”

  13. Thomas Schaber

    He also says, without even laughing out loud, that the speed of light is millions of times faster the further out in space you go. That’s how he accounts for billions of light years when, as we all know, the universe is only 6000+ years old.

    Does anyone know Dr Liar’s opps I mean Dr. Lisle Ph. D’s
    email address? I want to write him.